NC Cooperative Extension

Hollies at the Craven County Agricultural Building

Hollies at the Craven County Agricultural Building

Planting dates given in parentheses

Ilex 'Carolina Sentinel' Upright, tight
and somewhat conical
form up to 20-25 feet in height. Dark glossy green foliage with
large and showy red
fruit in the winter. An excellent introduction from the J.C.
Raulston Arboretum
(formerly NCSU Arboretum). (1992)

Ilex cassineDahoon Holly Beautiful
native holly growing
up to 20-30 feet in the wild but usually smaller in the
landscape. Foliage lacks the
prominent spines or teeth of the American holly. Very nice fruit
set in fall and winter. Very worthwhile and underused selection.
Hybrids between dahoon
holly and
American holly include 'East Palatka', 'Savannah' and the Fosteri
hollies. (1991)

Ilex cornutaChinese Holly One of the
toughest shrub-form hollies for Eastern NC landscapes. Among
other attributes,
the species is highly
resistant to black root rot, a common problem on Japanese holly.
However, tea scale  should be watched for. Cultivars in our
collection include 'Dwarf Burford' (1988), 'Carissa' (1988),
'Rotunda' (1993),
'Needlepoint' (1993), 'Autumn Fire' (1996) and the green and
variegated 'O' Spring' (1994). 'Autumn Fire' and 'Dwarf
Burford' are notable for good
fruit set; no additional pollinator plants are necessary. Be
careful with site selection –
'Dwarf Burford', for example, can easily reach 8 feet high and
wide, and is too large
for many of the sites it's planted in.

Ilex crenata Japanese Holly
shrub-form holly widely used as a
foundation plant; includes cultivars such as 'Compacta' and
'Helleri'. Unfortunately,
the species is highly susceptible to black root rot and is also
frequently damaged by
nematodes. Use of this species should be limited; in Eastern NC,
dwarf yaupon (Ilex
) would be a far more reliable foundation shrub. We
currently have the
cultivars 'John Nosal' (1992), 'Helleri' (1992) and 'Hetzii'
(1992). 'John Nosal' is a
very picturesque, narrow upright-growing form.

Ilex glabra 'Shamrock' – 'Shamrock' Inkberry
or gallberry is a native holly growing up to 6-8 feet tall in the
wild. Important nectar
source for honeybees. 'Shamrock' holds on to its lower foliage
better than does the
species, although with time some thinning out on the lower
branches occurs even
with this cultivar. Best used with low growing perennials or
other shrubs planted in
front. 'Shamrock' is a compact form with vivid green foliage
color. (1995)

Ilex integra
Nepal Holly  Dirr reports that this holly has performed
well in the Savannah, GA area for many years, and assigns it a
hardiness rating of Zone 6b to 9.  So both heat and cold tolerance
should be more than adequate.  Matures at 20-30 feet tall. 
Attractive foliage and fruit; however, pollination may need to be
considered.  Dirr states that 'Ban Croft' produces attractive red
fruits and that 'Bisexual' is a self pollinating form.  (2004)

Ilex latifoliaLusterleaf Holly
Infrequently used, but a
great holly for southeastern landscapes nonetheless. Large
leaves with good color
throughout the year. Mature landscape size will be around 20-25
feet. Male
pollinator needed for good fruit set. (1994)

Ilex myrtifolia Myrtleleaf Holly Closely
related to Ilex
and often listed as a variety of it. Leaves of
Ilex myrtifolia are
much more narrow and linear, however, giving this plant a very
different texture and
overall appearance. The fruit set on our female (1991) is showy
but not as heavy as
some of the other hollies. A weeping male variety was planted in
1996. Ilex
is an attractive and unique holly and certainly
deserves wider use in
Coastal Plains landscapes.

Ilex opaca American Holly Native
holly, very common in
the forests of Eastern NC. Relatively slow growing, up to 40-50
feet in height,
generally with a distinctly pyramidal or conical habit. Very
attractive bark develops as
the trees mature. Male pollinators are needed for fruit set on
female trees, and
numerous male and female cultivars are available. However, if
you live adjacent to a
wooded area with lots of American hollies, chances are your
female landscape holly
will set fruit just fine. We have 'Greenleaf' (1996), 'Tinga' (1992),
'Clarendon Spreading'
(1994) and a
yellow-fruited cultivar. 'Tinga' is interesting for it's
exceptionally dark green foliage
and the lack of spiny "teeth" around the leaf margins.

Ilex purpureaKashi Holly Little known
except to holly
enthusiasts, Kashi holly should be fully winter hardy in our area
and has excellent
potential as a new holly introduction for Coastal Plain
landscapes. This holly should
mature at 20-30 feet in height. Prominent glossy scarlet fruits
develop by autumn.   We noticed immature fruit inside the
canopy in mid July of 2004. (2000)

Ilex serrataJapanese Winterberry Similar to
but with smaller fruit. Male pollinators are needed; our plants
have never set fruit. Just barely heat tolerant in our area, and
probably not a good
choice considering that
winterberry (see below) is native. 'Sparkleberry' is a popular
Ilex serrata x Ilex
hybrid cultivar. (1990)

Ilex verticillataWinterberry
Excellent native deciduous
holly for the home landscape. A male pollinator is required for
good fruit production
(unless you happen to live along a stream or some other site
where lots of
winterberry occurs naturally). Male and female cultivars can be
divided into northern
and southern types, with successful fruit production dependant on
matching southern
males to southern females and likewise for the northern types. For
example, our 'Jim
Dandy' (northern male – 1997) did not appear to succeed in
pollinating our 'Winter
Red' (southern female – 1997). Planting 'Southern Gentleman'
nearby a year later
resulted in good fruit set. Winterberry should mature at between
6-10 feet in height
in the landscape.

Ilex vomitoriaYaupon Holly Versatile
evergreen holly. Tolerates wet or normal soils, sun or shade,
has good resistance to
black root rot and overall is one of our most valuable landscape
hollies. Great variety
in size and growth habit, including large weeping selections (20
feet or taller), large
rounded shrubs and dwarf selections useful as foundation plants. Our
includes an unnamed yellow-fruited variety (1993), a weeping
variety (1989), 'Will
Fleming' (1995), and the yellow-fruited 'Saratoga Gold' (1995). 'Will
Fleming' is an
exceptionally narrow, upright holly useful for restricted spaces. It
may be more likely
to become splayed and fall apart in very shady sites, as opposed
to full sun. Ours
has held up extremely well and splaying of branches has not been
a problem, except temporarily following snows.

Ilex x attenuata Group of hybrids between
and Ilex
(see under Ilex cassine). The Foster hollies
designated as Foster #1
through #5, with #2 and #3 most often sold as Foster Holly. The
various Ilex x
selections have performed very well in southeastern
landscapes, with
spittlebug damage to the foliage being about the only problem
usually observed. These hollies generally develop tree-form habits and
anywhere from 20-40 feet
or more in height. Foster hollies (1988) have shinier green and
narrower leaves as
compared with 'Savannah' (1988). Which is "best" is a matter of

Ilex x 'Emily Bruner' Attractive
leaves, dense
pyramidal growth habit up to 20 feet in height. 'James Swann' is
the recommended
pollinator. There is no pollinator on the grounds for our
'Emily Brunner' and it has
never fruited. (1993)

Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens' Very large
tree-form holly at
maturity, reaching perhaps 40-50 feet in height and 15-20 feet
across. Notable for
very glossy, dark-green foliage. Often planted at the corners of
houses and other
buildings, leading to a lot of maintenance aggravation later on. Seems
to fruit quite
well without the aid of male cultivars. Plant where you have
plenty of space and let it
go. (1992)

updated May 2008

Useful References

Hollies – The Genus Ilex. 1997. By Fred Galle. Published by
Timber Press,
Portland, Oregon.

Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. 1998. By Michael Dirr. Published
by Stipes
Publishing, Champaign, Illinois.

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